Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay Up for Mesothelioma

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CN) — Still plagued by allegations that its baby powder causes ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson was ordered Wednesday to pay the bulk of a $117 million verdict to a man with the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma.

Described by Reuters as the second national trial to focus on claims that Johnson & Johnson’s talc products contain asbestos, the New Brunswick-based manufacturer

is also battling with 6,610 women across the country over its duty to warn that using talc products for feminine hygiene can lead to ovarian cancer.

Though Johnson & Johnson denies that its baby powder contains asbestos, or that its products cause cancer, 46-year-old Stephen Lanzo, of New Jersey, claimed that his regular use of baby powder led to his mesothelioma diagnosis.

The first stage of the trial ended last week with a jury in New Brunswick ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay Lanzo and his wife $37 million in compensatory damages. On April 11, the jury tacked on another $80 million in punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, was deemed responsible for 30 percent of the verdict, according to the Reuters article, which cites an online broadcast of the trial by Courtroom View Network.

“We are gratified that justice was achieved and that our clients will be fairly compensated,” Moshe Maimon, an attorney for the Lanzos, said in a statement.

Both Johnson & Johnson and Imerys said they plan to appeal, with the latter company pointing to evidence that Lanzo’s “asbestos exposure came from different sources.”

Johnson & Johnson is also appealing verdicts it has faced in various cases on the ovarian cancer front.

After a California jury ordered the company to pay one woman $417 million last year, five trials in Missouri ended with juries finding the company liable in four of the cases, awarding a total of $307 million in damages to the plaintiffs.

A Missouri appellate court threw out the first verdict there in October, however, and a California judge tossed the $417 million verdict as well. The plaintiff in the California case died during the proceedings.

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